News release

Government move to increase competition welcome

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has welcomed steps by the government to increase competition in the legal services market as good news for the public, business and the economy.

Minister of State for Civil Justice, Lord Faulks QC today announced that the Government will be implementing changes to make it easier for Alternative Business Structures (ABSs) to enter the legal services market in England and Wales. ABSs allow those who are not lawyers to own or invest in firms.

Paul Philip, SRA Chief Executive, said: "An open, healthy, competitive market is good for the public, business, and the economy. Research shows that ABSs are more innovative - they are more likely to introduce new legal services.

"Currently the one size fits all approach to approving ABS is unnecessarily burdensome. It is not appropriate for a two partner law firm who wants to convert to an ABS to go through the same process as a global company entering the legal market. These proposals will allow us to be more targeted and proportionate – better able to encourage innovation and choice, while still making sure the public is protected.

"It is good news that the Government plans to enable us to take a more effective approach, so that we can make it easier for ABSs to enter the market and make legal services more accessible and affordable for the public."

ABSs account for a turnover of £2.66 billion - an average of around £5.4m a firm; larger than an average of £1.9m for other SRA regulated firms.

Read the ministerial statement on the government's proposals

Read the consultation: 'Legal services: removing barriers to competition'

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